‘No-Shows’ Impacting Restaurants During Pandemic in Canada: Interview

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OpenTable, the world’s leading provider of online restaurant reservations, has launched a campaign to let diners know the impact no-shows is having on the restaurant industry during this crucial period of economic recovery.

Matthew Davis

“When a diner doesn’t fulfill a reservation, it significantly impacts the restaurant’s revenue,” said Matt Davis, Country Director, OpenTable Canada, which has been available in this country for about 15 years. “At OpenTable, we have a responsibility to help build awareness of this issue and leverage our technology in every way possible to reduce no-show rates.

“To be honest, it’s always been somewhat of a problem. It’s just become exacerbated over the course of the pandemic given the fact that restaurants have less inventory or tables because of capacity restrictions. Whenever a diner doesn’t show up for a reservation, it makes more impact now than ever before because they could essentially wipe out that restaurant’s profit margin for the evening just by not showing up.”

To support restaurants through this period of recovery, OpenTable has launched ‘Show-Up for Restaurants’ to spotlight the impact of no-shows and to encourage diners to modify or cancel their reservation when plans change. OpenTable has added new tools and features to help restaurants prevent no-shows:

  • A New Way to Tag Diners: This new tool allows restaurants to label a diner as a potential no-show based on previous reservation activity. The tool allows restaurateurs to tag the diner with a new label, so they can be proactive about confirming attendance with the diner as their reservation approaches;
  • “Four Strikes and You’re Out”: OpenTable’s policy suspends diners who don’t show up for a reservation four times per calendar year. This policy is in addition to a number of features that OpenTable offers to mitigate no-shows, such as email and SMS reminders, prepaid experiences, availability alerts, customizable cancellation policies, credit-card required reservations holds and more;
  • Communicate Directly with Restaurants In-App: OpenTable’s new Direct Messaging feature allows diners to communicate with restaurants before and after making a reservation, without ever having to make a phone call. Direct messaging empowers restaurants to serve up better hospitality by reducing cancellations and no-shows and building stronger connections that keep guests coming back.

A recent survey from OpenTable revealed that 27 per cent of Canadians intend on eating out more frequently than before the pandemic.

Davis said no-shows impact restaurant revenues in a number of different ways.

First, when people make reservations the restaurants are planning for what business they’re going to get. When they are holding tables for reservations, they turn away walk-in customers. Potential revenue is lost.

Also, restaurants staff their restaurants accordingly depending on the expected business for certain days. With no-shows, restaurants are doubly hit. Not only are they not making the revenue but they’re paying out of pocket for being over-staffed.

And they might also have stock and inventory that might expire and go to waste.

“It’s a knock on effect all the way along,” said Davis.

OpenTable said almost one in 10 Canadians say they haven’t shown up for a reservation in the past year.

“We’re trying to spread the word in our Show-Up for Restaurants campaign. Really, at OpenTable we have a responsibility to help raise awareness of the issue and leverage our technology in every way possible to reduce no-shows for restaurants,” added Davis.

“It’s interesting because we’re seeing enormous demand for people to go out and dine in restaurants. That’s fantastic. So Canadians are really already showing up for restaurants and supporting them. During the lockdown they were doing take out and delivery and now that there’s reopenings they’re going out in droves to sit in patios or indoor. I’m really cautiously optimistic that we’re going to see that continue now that vaccinations are ramping up and different governments are mandating different policies. The news is good and the outlook looks positive.

“Restaurants have been supported really well by the Government of Canada and of course by the community of diners themselves. And oftentimes diners don’t realize that all they need to do is call to let the restaurant know that you’re not coming. That is so much better than not showing up for a reservation.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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